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Lawmaker withdraws nuclear referendum bill, citing political turmoil

2013/09/10 19:07:53

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) Lawmaker Lee Ching-hua of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) on Tuesday withdrew a proposal for a referendum on the fate of the country's fourth nuclear power plant, citing the recent political instability.

Lee, who sponsored the bill, said it is not the right time for the Legislative Yuan to vote on it, given the political upheaval at the moment.

Such a referendum is "crucial to national development and the people's welfare" and should be carried out with the full consensus of the Presidential Office, Executive Yuan, KMT and the people, he said.

He also noted that the Cabinet had said that the results of a safety inspection of the plant would not be available before the legislative vote on the referendum bill.

Lee said that under these circumstances, he is withdrawing the proposal to hold a referendum on the nuclear power plant, which is still under construction.

The proposed referendum would have asked the electorate whether they agreed that the fourth nuclear power plant should be halted and not put into operation.

The referendum bill was among several that the KMT was hoping the Legislature would process in the fall session that opens in mid-September.

An effort by the KMT caucus to put the referendum bill to a vote Aug. 2 failed after opposition lawmakers occupied the podium of the legislative chamber and scuffles erupted.

Taiwan's politics have been in turmoil since President Ma Ying-jeou issued a strongly worded statement Sunday condemning Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's alleged involvement in a case of inappropriate lobbying.

Wang allegedly used his influence to urge the prosecutor in charge of a breach of trust case not to appeal a High Court verdict. The case involved opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chief whip Ker Chien-ming, who was found not guilty by the High Court after two previous guilty verdicts.

Wang looks set to lose his job as speaker, a position he has held for 14 years.

DPP politicians have accused Ma, who serves concurrently as KMT chairman, of illegal wiretapping of the opposition party and manipulating the judicial system for his own political interests.

Wang is believed to have developed good relations with many opposition party lawmakers, and the recent political development is seen as deepening the rift between the KMT and DPP and setting the stage for possibile confrontations between the Legislative Yuan and the Ma administration.

(By Tseng Ying-yu and Christie Chen)